Books As Friends


Here’s the fairly well-known account of J.W. McGarvey’s farewell to his “friends” (his books) from the Facebook page, “Friends of the Restoration.” As someone on the page observed, “One who does not have them cannot understand the sentiment involved.” One who does not have them cannot understand the sentiment involved e+bible%22+mcgarvey&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GAAGVbLpFe_dsAS44IKgAQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22lands%20of%20the%20bible%22%20mcgarvey&f=false

“I had already been upstairs in my library to take a last look there, and as I gazed upon the rows of familiar books I said within myself, ‘goodbye, my dear old friends; and if I never see you again, God bless you for the good you have done me and the happy hours we have spent together.” (Lands of the Bible, p. 387).

Book on the origin of Israel available

This book is still available on Kindle at $2.99

Ferrell's Travel Blog

Daniel I. Block’s book, Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention?, is available in Kindle format today for $2.99. The retail price of the hardback is $28.

The publisher (B&H) of the 2008 book describes it as

a collection of essays responding to the radical claims that Israel and its history actually began following the Babylonian exile, and that the history of Israel we read about in the Bible is a fictionalized account.

Contributors are leading Bible and archaeology scholars who bring extra-biblical evidence to bear for the historicity of the Old Testament and provide case studies of new work being done in the field of archaeology.

The book includes the following essays dealing with some of the current discussions in Biblical studies.

  • Israel – Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? – Daniel I. Block
  • The Value and Limitations of the Bible and Archaeology – Alan R. Millard
  • Contextual Criticism…

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Can We Still Believe the Bible?

Daniel B. Wallace


Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, has written another outstanding volume. Blomberg is a committed evangelical, but not one with a closed mind. As he says in his preface about the environment of Denver Seminary (quoting Vernon Grounds, former president of the school), “Here is no unanchored liberalism—freedom to think without commitment. Here is no encrusted dogmatism—commitment without freedom to think. Here is a vibrant evangelicalism—commitment with freedom to think within the limits laid down by Scripture.” Blomberg’s writings have always emulated this philosophy. His research in the secondary literature is consistently of superb quality, and his discussions of problem passages and issues, especially in the Gospels, is always well informed. Rather than clutter the narrative with documentation, Blomberg has wisely used endnotes instead of footnotes (though I personally prefer footnotes, I understand that most readers see them as a distraction). This book has nearly…

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Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible

Ferrell's Travel Blog

Frequently we have mentioned and recommended the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G. Rasmussen. Every Bible student needs at least one or two good atlases to assist them in their study of the Scriptures.

Last month I attended some annual professional meetings in Baltimore and was pleased to see that Zondervan already had copies of the new Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible. One of the sales reps gave me a copy for review here.

At first appearance, the ZEAB has a beautiful cover of stiff, durable paper. It is a convenient 9 1/8″ x 7 3/8″ in size. The content is basically the same as the larger hard back edition. There has been some editing of the text to condense the book from 303 pages to 159 pages.

There are two major sections to the book: Geographical Section and Historical Section. The Geographical Section includes an Introduction to the…

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Footnote 27 – C.S. Lewis: The Discarded Image

Footnote 27 – C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1964), p. 89.

Earlier I posted information about CS Lewis’ death on November 22, 1963. Normally this would have received significant press and public attention – the death of a respected scholar at both Oxford and Cambridge who became a wartime fixture in Britain for his radio discussions during the dark days of World War 2; the former atheist who became of the most significant and widely-read apologists for the truth of Christianity – was “overtaken by events” of the same day.

The significance of CS Lewis as an academician and scholar is sometimes overlooked or dismissed by those who know him only through his more popular apologetics books, or who cavalierly dismiss his views.  But his work as a scholar of medieval literature and the trans-generational and cross-cultural transmission of knowledge is significant.  His posthumously-published work,The Discarded Image (Cambridge University Press, 1964) is one of my “favorites” – describing how medieval texts assimilated the Greco-Roman corpus of “natural history” (what would, in the 19th century, be dubbed “science”) – useful to a green graduate student in the History of Science at Emory University in Atlanta, grappling with bestiaries and other strange accumulations of knowledge. .

As a young man, I once had a flash of insight that youthful hubris allowed me to imagine at the time to be one of the few truly “original” ideas I ever had (everyone should have one or two such ideas in a lifetime, no?) It was the notion that God does not really “foreknow” what happens in the future (as though He were limited to looking at the future through a keyhole, or the “wrong” end of a telescope – actually an apt description of the limited view of prophets and angels described in 1 Peter 1:10-12). Rather, since He is not time-bound, and therefore is already “at” tomorrow, or next year, He knows what decisions I make in my future since he is already “there.” In the same way that I know what choices I made for breakfast this morning (bacon and eggs, cereal, bagel? – ALWAYS go for the bacon, if available), similarly, He knows my “future-to-me” choices, without limiting them in any way. The insight seemed so profound and original at the time…..

Then I encountered Lewis’ comments below, published while I was still a high school kid only beginning to contemplate such matters.  Ah, well….there is no shame in being superseded, or pre-dated, by C.S. Lewis!

Here’s the text:

“God is eternal, not perpetual.  Strictly speaking, He never foresees; He simply sees.  Our ‘future’ is only an area, and only for us a special area, of His infinite Now.  He sees (not remembers) your yesterday’s acts because yesterday is still ‘there’ for him; He sees (not foresees) your tomorrow’s acts because He is already in tomorrow.  Just as a human spectator, by watching my present act, does not at all infringe its freedom, so I am free to act as I choose in the future because God, in that future (His present) watches me acting.”

        C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 1964), p. 89.

Did you know C. S. Lewis died Nov. 22, 1963?

C.S. Lewis, one of the foremost apologists of the 20th century, died on November 22, 1963. His passing was, of course, “overtaken by events” which overshadowed his passing. I mentioned this in a lesson Sunday in which I quoted Lewis’ famous quip that there are two equal and opposite errors about Satan (one being to totally disbelieve, the other to become overly consumed by him – and that he is equally pleased with either error). Ferrell elaborates on Lewis’ life and death here.

Ferrell's Travel Blog

Recently I have been reading C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath. He says that Warnie found his brother dead at the foot of his bed at 5:30 p.m. [in Oxford], “Friday, 22 November 1963.” Then comes this paragraph:

At that same time, President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade left Dallas’s Love Field Airport, beginning its journey downtown. An hour later, Kennedy was fatally wounded by a sniper. He was pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Media reports of Lewis’s death were completely overshadowed by the substantially more significant tragedy that unfolded that day in Dallas.

C. S. Lewis was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry, Oxford after a private, and very small service. Warnie chose a phrase from a Shakespearean calendar that was in their home back in Belfast at the time of their mother’s death in August 1908: “Men must endure…

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‘November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three’ by Wendell Berry & Ben Shahn

‘November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three’ by Wendell Berry & Ben Shahn

‘November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three’ by Wendell Berry & Ben Shahn

From Alan Cornett’s blog, Pinstripe Pulpit — read more at:

Wendell Berry’s poem can be read here:

Berry Nov 26 text 1

So much symbolism is bound up in John F. Kennedy it is difficult to separate the myth from the reality. For those my age, and even a decade older, JFK is someone we know only from photographs and old video clips. It is that last video clip from Dallas that transformed the man into the legend.

Wendell Berry, a novelist and poet still in his twenties at the time, was understandably moved. In response to Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, and his state funeral on November 25, Berry wrote his reflections in verse as “November 26, 1963,” a consideration the day after.

Berry Nov 26 text 2

Berry published the poem in The Nation magazine (December 21) where it was read by artist Ben Shahn (1898-1969). Lithuianian born, Shahn’s father had been exiled to Siberia by the czars as a political dissident. Eventually the family emigrated from their homeland to the United States.

Shahn embraced leftist ideology in his politics and social realism in his art. Among Shahn’s famous subjects were Sacco and Vanzetti and, later, Martin Luther King, Jr. for TIME magazine. He was also well-known as a Depression-era photographer for the Farm Security Administration.

Shahn Nov 26 illust horse

Kennedy’s assassination was, then, a perfect subject for Shahn, and Berry’s poem was the perfect vehicle. Shahn writes,

It was shortly after those shattering few days that the following poem appeared in The Nation. I found it extraordinarily moving. It was right in every way; it was modest and unrhetorical. It examined soberly and sensitively just this event in its every detail. Its images were the images of those days, no others. In so sharply scrutinizing his own feelings, the poet has discovered with an uncanny exactness all our feelings. His words have created a certain monument, not pretentious, but real, and shared.

When I read the poem, I wanted it preserved, read, not lost in the pages of a last week’s magazine. I turned it into a book, accompanied by the images that it invokes for me. I have hoped, in some small way, to help monumentalize those days so that we may not so soon become inured to an unacceptable violence, a failure, a profound sadness.

What resulted was a lovely oblong slipcased volume published by George Braziller in May 1964, only Berry’s second book. Shahn frequently used a block style calligraphic text with his artwork, and he employs the technique with great effect here. His hand drawn title fills the front cover, and the text of the poem is rendered in the same style throughout faced with Shahn’s illustrations on the left.

Berry Nov 26 cover

There are two editions, a limited signed edition and a regular trade edition. According to Russell Freedman’s Wendell Berry bibliography, 3013 copies of the limited signed edition were issued, printed on hand laid paper from the Italian mill Fabriano. Somewhat mysteriously, online bookseller Daedalus found a cache of new, uncirculated copies a few years ago, and sold them for a reasonable sum (I’m sure all are long gone now). The trade edition, also slipcased but slightly smaller in size, is fairly easily found for not too much money. The black slipcase is often faded, and the cloth cover is often foxed.

Berry Shahn signatures

As the nation remembers its most recent fallen president, take a moment to read Berry’s thoughtful poem. It well captures the mood of our nation fifty years ago.

Shahn Nov 26 illust color